A new percutaneous transluminal coronary angioscopic catheter has been developed for visualization of the coronary artery. A specially made balloon, fixed at the catheter tip, and an angulation mechanism made a precise coaxial alignment possible in the coronary lumen. This angioscopic catheter, 1.22 mm in outer diameter, has four channels, one for irrigation in which a 0.36 mm (0.014 in.) angioplasty guide wire can be used. With the use of this angioscope, coronary lumens in 8 dogs, thrombi that were produced with copper coils in the left anterior descending coronary artery in 11 dogs, atherosclerotic coronary arteries in 20 patients during cardiac catheterization and the sequence of transluminal coronary angioplasty in 1 patient were observed. The angioscopic catheter was introduced into the coronary artery by an 8F guide catheter. The steerable guide wire enabled the angioscopic catheter to be accurately and safely inserted into the target lesion in all cases. The inflated balloon and angulation mechanism allowed a curved coronary lumen and atheroma to be seen with a limited volume of irrigation fluid. Visualization was good (complete visualization of the inner lumen) in 46% (10 of 22 lesions), moderate (visualization of >50% of the inner lumen) in 36% (8 of 22 lesions) and poor (visualization of <50% of the inner lumen) in 18% (4 of 22 lesions) in humans. There were no major complications. These preliminary experiences in closed chest cardiac catheterization in dogs and in humans indicate the feasibility of this angioscope. The information yielded by angioscopy may be clinically useful in the study of the pathophysiologic changes in coronary disease that are not detected by coronary arteriography.
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